August 10, 2017 – Tierra Grande Class of 2017 Members Are “Hands On” with Wetlands Maintenance & Fall Cleanup.  Thank You Texas Master Naturalists One and All!

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Bayla Metzger(l) Abbie Perrault(r) Bird Blind Painting

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Dragonfly Pond Clean-Up Crew

Ellen, Linda Myers, Judy Freeman, & Ned Allen

(L to R Pond Crew) Wetlands Sponsor – Ellen Weinacht, Linda Myers, Judy Freeman, Ned Allen

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Joe Sublett (Pond Crew)

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Martin Havran, Bird Blind Painting

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Matt Grant, Kiosk Maintenance

August 7, 2017 – Come and Experience Sandia Springs Wetlands New Dragonfly Pond.  (Images By Michael Gray)

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Marl Pennant

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Commanche Skimmer

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American Rubyspot

July 5, 2017 – New Irrigation Gates Installed.  Also Shown – Dave Hedges Long Time Sandia Springs Project Manager.  Thank You Dave!  (Image By Dave Mainz)

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June 3, 2017 – Sightings and images from Sandia Wetlands Project.  Thank you Mike and Cecilia Gray!

Burrowing Owl

BURROWING OWL

Scaled Quail

SCALED QUAIL

Following image with dark eye (not red) is maybe a Glossy Ibis.  The rest are White Faced Ibis.  Unconfirmed sighting and images from Mike Gray – May 5, 2017. Thank you Mike!

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Additional images by Mike Gray

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Black-necked Stilt, Common at Sandia Wetlands

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Marbled Godwit, Common at Sandia Wetlands

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Wilson’s Phalarope – Sighted Sandia Wetlands April 27, 2017

 The following images taken by Mark Lockwood, TPWD April 24, 2017.  American Golden-Plovers are quite rare in the Trans-Pecos.  Thank you Mark!

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American Golden-Plover

American Golden-Plover - Sandia Wetlands, Balmorhea, Texas

American Golden-Plover

Cinnamon Teal - Sandia Wetlands, Balmorhea, Texas

Cinnamon Teal

Lesser Yellowlegs - Sandia Wetlands, Balmorhea, Texas

Lesser Yellowlegs

Long-billed Dowitcher - Sandia Wetlands, Balmorhea, Texas

Long-Billed Dowitcher

Drone Footage, Sandia Wetlands Project – April 13, 2017.  How far we have come in just a few short years.  Spring migration is well underway we expect to see you soon.

“New Flash” – Herring Gull Sighting March 31, 2017.  Reported By Cecilia Riley, Thank You Cecilia!

TAMU FILE PHOTO

Soon To Be Released Drone Overview Of Sandia Wetlands Project.  Here Is A Teaser – March 9, 2017

SANDIA WETLANDS PROJECT

IMAGE COURTESY OF GARY MARTIN. FINISHED VIDEO TO BE RELEASED SOON.

Snow Geese From Contributor Melody Lytle Thank You Melody – March 5, 2017

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SNOW GEESE

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SNOW GEESE

Dragonfly Pond Strategy Meeting, Sandia Wetlands Project – March 3, 2017

Plotters and planners Kay Charter – Director Saving Birds Thru Habitat, Dave Mainz, Chris Wilson, Gary Martin – President TAMU Press, all plotting and planning for the new dragonfly pond.  Not shown Ellen Weinacht, Photographer and Sandia Wetlands Project Director.

More about Saving Birds Thru Habitat:  http://www.savingbirds.org/index.html

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Geese and replenished water in all units after winter repair and improvements – February 28, 2017

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NEW FLASH – February 22, 2017

Winter upgrades and improvements have all been completed at Sandia Springs Wetlands.  All units have water and we are waiting on spring migration:  Bring It On!

Snow Geese February 2, 2017

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Rare Burrowing Owl Sighted, (Groucho subspecies)

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Recent images taken at Sandia Wetlands by Bill Wright.  Thank You Bill!  January 21, 2017

(Click on image to enlarge)

Just in:  Results from last month’s Balmorhea & Davis Mtns, Christmas Bird Count.  Thank you Mark Lockwood, TPWD – January 21, 2017

(Click on links)

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Wetlands Improvements Underway – January 13, 2017

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INSTALLATION OF FOUR NEW IRRIGATION GATES

Recent Images From Maryann Eastman – January 13, 2017

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AVOCETS

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LONG BILLED DOWITCHER

Long-billed Dowitchers

LONG BILLED DOWITCHERS

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WHITE FACED IBIS

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WILSON’S PHALARO

News Update From Ellen Weinacht – January 6, 2017

Preparations are underway to ready the wetland for the installation of new gates in ponds 2 and 4 and new drainage pipes in ponds 3 and 1. The pools have been drained and the ducks and geese have made themselves at home in ponds 1 and 2, our overflow ponds. Work must be completed by mid-July. Our thanks again to Ducks Unlimited for their generous grant.

The dragonfly pond is nearly off the drawing board and promises to be another exciting adventure.

Ducks in flight:

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Geese in flight:

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Ducks and More Ducks at Sandia Wetlands, November 26, 2016

(CLICK ON LINK TO VIEW)

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November 3, 2016

TEXAS MASTER NATURALIST CHAPTER ANNOUNCES RECEIPT OF GENEROUS GRANT FROM DUCKS UNLIMITED TO BENEFIT THE SANDIA SPRINGS WETLAND PROJECT, BALMORHEA TEXAS.

 (CLICK ON DOCUMENTS TO ENLARGE)

August, 2016 Davis Mountains Annual Humming Bird Festival

Sandia Springs Wetlands hosted as one of the venues for this event.

(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE)

July, 2016 Sandia Wetlands Project Maintenance & Cleanup

(CLICK ON IMAGES FOR CAPTION & TO ENLARGE)

Wednesday July 20, 2016

On Wednesday 20th July, 2016, a group of 22 high school students were given a tour of the Sandia Springs wetlands. The students were there as part of the Wildlife Conservation Camp hosted by The Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society. On this morning, students were given a lecture by Dr. Ryan O’Shaughnessy from the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University. The lecture included discussion of wetland functions, timing of flooding and draw-downs, seed and invertebrate production, as well as information on management tools used in wetlands. After the initial talk, students were led around the periphery of the wetlands to examine the water-control feature currently being implemented at the Sandia Springs. The student showed great interest in the wetlands, and asked some meaningful and well thought questions. A good time was had by all, and the Wildlife Camp hopes to return to the Sandia Springs in the near future.

Images follow.

Ryan O’Shaughnessy, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Borderlands Research Institute
Department of Natural Resource Management
Sul Ross State University

(Click On Image To Enlarge)

Sandia Springs Hosts Texas A&M Press Publishers Board.  May 22, 2016  

Ellen Weinacht Sandia Springs Wetlands property owner, sponsor and Tierra Grande member last weekend May 22nd hosted breakfast for the Advancement Board of Texas A&M University Press of which Ellen is a member.  The TAMU Press has published works of folks very familiar to Tierra Grande Members and friends including Jackie Poole, Madge Lindsey, Dr. Louis Harveson and others.  Credit to Dave Mainz for the images including those of White-faced Ibis.

For more information on TAMU University Press:

http://www.tamupress.com/pages/about_advisory_council.aspx

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Josh Burns, Sandia Springs Wetlands Update.  2/11/16

Yesterday, I was up at the Balmorhea area birding places and have some information you (and whoever) might like to have. Balmorhea Lake was very high and between the high water and the flooded access roads I found only a few ducks and only one Snow Goose.

I drove over to Sandia and there were 62 Snow Geese including a half-dozen or so Blue Geese on the pond by the blind. Also a few shovelers, cinnamon teal and Mexican Ducks. I did not go into the wetlands as the geese seemed to be a bit jumpy about my presence.

Did the Snow Geese move (of course)?

Josh

2015 Balmorhea Christmas Bird Count

The 2015 Christmas Bird Count list was provided by Mark Lockwood, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.  Lots of Birds.

CLICK ON LINK TO DOWNLOAD TO YOUR COMPUTER

Balmorhea CBC 2015

Ever wondered how the count got started and how the data is used today?  

Learn more by going to the following Audubon link.

https://www.audubon.org/conservation/history-christmas-bird-count

December 26, 2015 Boxing Day!

BOXING DAY DECEMBER 26, 2015 AT SANDIA SPRINGS WETLANDS!

Images taken from the Carter Bird Blind:  CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

What is Boxing Day all about anyway?  Find out here, enjoy:

http://www.pauldenton.co.uk/Boxingday.htm

TUESDAY DECEMBER 8, 2015

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Lots of snow geese and ducks.

SATURDAY MAY 23, 2015

Ellen and Don Weinacht hosted the very first Sandia Wetlands “Hoedown”.  Friends, neighbors, dignitaries came from far and wide to enjoy BBQ, cold refreshments, make new acquaintances and renew old friendships and to honor the completion of the wetlands bird blind with a champagne dedication.  A good time was had by all.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Ellen Weinacht and guests.

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The entire Hoedown crew.

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Michael Carter, Dave Mainz & Dave Hedges.

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FRIDAY MARCH 27, 2015

Ellen Weinacht and Dave Mainz added the finishing touches to the bird blind with an expertly applied seal coat on all the wood except for the cedar siding.  The blind is open for business.

Click on image to enlarge.

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SATURDAY MARCH 14, 2015

Bird blind roof installed, cedar siding completed, window sills installed…..construction is complete, and ready to use.  Enjoy

Click on images to enlarge

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FRIDAY FEBRUARY 13, 2015

Click on images to enlarge

Framing for the walls completed work was started on the cedar siding.  Work to continue…..in a week or so…

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SATURDAY JANUARY 17, 2015 – Fortunately Michael Carter was in charge otherwise we might still be out there. Michael designed the project, ordered materials and made sure we had the right equipment. This will be an ongoing project if you are interested in helping out. The first stage began yesterday Saturday, January 17th and will continue early next week. Half the flooring is complete. We had a great turn out. Ellen hosted potluck lunch. Other wetlands work was done as well including wetlands maintenance and the removal of unwanted plants, dried brush and tumbleweed.

CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

The Boss

Michael Carter (left) Bird Blind Project Manager

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DAVE HEDGES SANDIA PROJECT MANAGER

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SNOW GEESE

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SNOW GEESE

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ANN SAYS SHE IS ON THE LEVEL. MICHAEL AND STEVE LOOK AMAZED.

THE CREW

THE DECK CREW

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 Work continued Tuesday January 20th.  The deck was nearly completed, work began on the front wall facing the water.

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Dave Mainz

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Topside Michael Carter, project manager. Below Abel and Dave Mainz.

Work will continue to two weeks or so.  The floor framing plan was abused.

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FRONT WALL FACING WATER

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Work continued February 8 – Framing for roof and walls was nearly completed.  Michael’s prebuilt stairs were installed.  Work to be continue later this week.

Click on images to enlarge.

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MICHAEL, BIRD BLIND PROJECT MANAGER

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FRONT WALL FACING WATER

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LATE IN THE DAY. DAVE AND STEVE RETURNED ALPINE AT 7:30PM

DAVE’S FAVORITE LADDER (LEFT) IN A HIGH WIND. NOTE THE STAIRS WERE INSTALLED (LOWER RIGHT)

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Borderlands Research Institute, Crustacean Research At Sandia Project

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Ryan Anthony is a M.S. Thesis Candidate with Sul Ross State University’s Borderland Research Institute.  Along with other sites in the region Ryan is studying our project Sandia Wetlands, specifically crustaceans that provide food resources to the shorebirds and waterfowl during a high energy demanding migratory phase in their life cycles.  Sandia is a unique small wetland with big potential as one of the only wetlands in this part of Texas.  Ryan was born and raised in Pakistan.  His home state is Arizona and is an Iraqi war veteran.  In these images Ryan is taking sediment samples, the last image back in the BRI lab.  Images taken by Bill Broyles, Texas Master Naturalist with Borderlands Research Institute.

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Photos – August 2012

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Rare Bird Sighting at Sandia Springs Wetlands

According to “Birds of the Trans-Pecos” author Kelly Bryan,  the Marbled Godwit is listed as “Rare” – Seldom observed; may not occur each year during season indicated.

So if you are interested in a “rare” shorebird,  the Sandia Wetland Project has produced it’s first. It was observed midday 04/21/12 in the center unit by Dave Hedges and Ellen Weinacht.

Park in the parking area and approach the center unit  quietly on  foot from the north side. Binoculars will work fine but a scope will put him in your lap.

This is a very large shorebird with a 30 inch wingspan and a large slightly upturned two tone bill. When probing for food one would think he’s drilling for oil. They go deep.

A real thrill to have this occurrence on the Wetland.

Whimbrel

Today, Tues. April 24, 2012  GREAT NEWS—Report from Dave Hedges—Two extremely unusual bird sightings for our region have turned up at the newly restored Sandia Wetlands:  Marbled Godwit (4/23) and today Whimbrel (4/24), Kelly Bryan informed that the Whimbrel is very unusual for here.

Also the newest unit added to the wetlands has water being delivered into it at this moment.

They wetlands are doing what Dave and all of us predicted.  Add water and species lost nearly 100 years ago will return.

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March 8, 2012

Unit 4 filled with Nature Conservancy water

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March 5, 2012

Steve Garcia the rock man, and his #1 assistant Billy Gallego watch the first water go into Unit 4.

Unit 1 and Unit 4 are attracting shorebirds.

Madge’s snag.

Pickup by Unit 4 (which is the same size as Units 1-3) looking from the west.

 

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Visited by Nature Conservancy

As you know, the 120 acre/feet of water from Lake Balmorhea to which The Nature Conservancy is entitled is currently dedicated to the Sandia Springs project.  The project currently consists of 3 units covering a total of approximately 4 acres with another 2-acre unit proposed for the future.  The project includes a parking and observation area adjacent to the county road for wildlife observers.

Based upon my observations and the discussions of future plans for the project, I believe this to be a very good use of our water and very consistent with our mission, given the potential for migratory bird and other wildlife habitat, and especially in the context of historic wetland loss in our area.  During my brief time there, I observed a lesser yellowlegs, white-crowned sparrows, killdeer, gadwalls, a Mexican mallard, and dragonflies.

Please be aware that the TGMN committee for this project consisting of Ellen, Mary Fenton, Susan Penney, Barbara Novovitch, Mary Malmgrem, and others was very impressed with your recent recommendations regarding tree species and other vegetation.  They plan to resume this planning in the near future and may be interested in calling on you again.  If I can be of any help in this regard, please let me know.

Chris Pipes

Davis Mountains Project Director

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Improvements

 

The 2 poles 6 ft apart in the middle are for the kiosk Dave M is building.  The two poles on either side of the side road are for a sign “No Vehicles” or a chain to prevent vehicles.

 

 

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Christmas 2011 at the Wetlands

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Level Wetlands

Yesterday the Sandia Wetland was leveled- bare to the bone.   We will begin filling it this week and see what we attract.

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